I had a theory about weeds. Back in elementary school, the kindergarten teachers had a garden growing behind my fifth grade classroom. Once every two weeks, my class would help tend to the garden by pulling up most of the weeds.
At first, we took scissors to them, snipping them close to the soil. The weeds grew back quicker and thicker each time. We were frustrated at all of our work being undone so quickly.
A girl in my class suggested we dig up the roots so that the weeds couldn't grow back. We tried this, and it worked! The weeds that did grow back were new and turtle-like slow. Not to mention small. The huge, fast weeds never existed in that garden again.
I saw Mason as a weed now. He was causing more problems than helping, and I wanted that to stop. I slipped on my sweater and shoes, and headed out the door. I needed to get to the root of this problem and put an end to it.
The whole walk over there I was playing different scenarios through my head, trying to figure out how to approach him. But when I knocked on his door, my mind went blank again, so I decided to wing it.
"Hell- Oh, Camri." Mason said as he opened the door. He gave me a smile that faded as soon as he saw my somber face.
"We need to talk."
We decided to take a walk to the park that was only half a mile from his house.
"You need to stop," I told him. "You're pissing Alex off."
"Stop what?" He said, as if he didn't know what I was talking about.
"Stop messing with him."
"What do you mean messing?" He sounded genuinely clueless, but I knew how good of an actor he was, how he liked to play mind games for his own amusement.
"I mean you're flirting with me and sending him misleading pictures."
His eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. "Pictures?"
"Stop acting like you don't know what I'm talking about!"
"I'm not acting Cami. I actually have no idea what you're talking about."
"You…!" I considered the possibility that maybe he really didn't know what I was talking about. "But then… why would Alex lie?" Or was it Porcelain who lied?
"Maybe because he's jealous, seeing you so close to another guy? Maybe he wants you to hate me so you won't hang out with me?"
"But… no, Alex isn't like that." I retreated into defensive mode, "he wouldn't do that." My voice betrayed me though, and doubt crept in.
"Then you tell me."
I didn't answer. What if he was right? Maybe that's why Alex hadn't talked to me since the pool, even after he said he got a new phone. Or did he get a new phone at all? Maybe Alex was being jealous and over reactive. What if Mason wasn't the real problem here? Maybe Alex was –
"I'll admit to the first accusation though." Mason broke the depressing silence.
"What?" I said, suddenly looking up.
"I was flirting a bit more when he was around."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well… have you ever thought that maybe I was a little jealous too?"
"I…" Why would that thought even ever cross my mind? But after I thought it over, I realized the better question was why wouldn't it? I mean, it was obvious Mason liked me. Why wouldn't he be jealous of Alex? "I dunno."
"Come on, Cami. You know I like you."
"I thought… All this time I thought you were only kidding. You always go back on your words…"
He closed his eyes and pressed his palms to his forehead. "I know, and I'm sorry."
Instantly, I felt bad. I've always been a sympathetic person, no matter what the situation. I grabbed his hands and pulled them away from his face. "Hey, don't beat yourself up over it."
Hearing how overly soft my voice was, I remembered this was not what I came here for. I dropped his hands too quickly, but it wasn't the right situation to worry about him being offended. "Mason," I started, my voice suddenly turning cold. "Stop. This is exactly what I was talking about. Stop playing your mind games with Alex and me.
He looked hurt. I kept reminding myself that he was faking it. All of it. "Cami, I'm not playing any games. I really do like you–"
"–And I want to be with you."
"Stop!" Our voices kept overlapping. I wasn't sure if I was yelling at him for saying those things, or at myself for almost believing them. I scrunched up my eyes and held my head between my palms. "STOP!" I drew the word out and screeched it as I dropped to my knees. It didn't even sound human; a wounded animal. I hoped letting the sound out would fight away the tears that were trying to slip through my eyes too tightly shut. My head was spinning and soon throbbing. I couldn't think clearly. I couldn't think at all.
Mason gently laid one hand on the curve of my waist. That hand snaked around to my back and pulled me back up and closer to him until my chest was pressed against his. There was no space between us. His other hand gently touched my face, stroking my cheek and tracing my jaw line.
My head was heavy and felt thick with throbbing pain. My eyes were too watery to see through and my ears had a painful ringing in them. I was too weak to pull away. His touch made me dizzy, but not in a passionate, intoxicating way. It was forbidden and confusing. It didn't make my cheeks blush like Alex's did. It was nothing like Alex's. No, with Mason, it wasn't love. With Mason it felt like my head was being squeezed and my eyes well up with tears. I wasn't happy at all. All it made me want to do was cry.
So why didn't I at least tell him no?
His hand suddenly grasped my jaw and gently, but firmly, he tilted my head up. When his lips touched mine, the first tear fell. After that, they wouldn't stop falling down
Something broke through the fog of my mind then, and hundreds of songs flooded into my head. Angry songs, sad songs, love songs. They were trying to help me grasp my own feelings and clear the haze, as music has always done for me. I wanted to collapse into his arms crying. I wanted to yell at him and hit him. I never wanted to see him again, but at the same time I felt I couldn't live another day without him. I wanted to kill him. I didn't want to stop kissing him.
The whole thing drove me insane.
"Camri." I heard a voice say my name. I froze.
Alex was standing less than ten feet away, staring at Mason and me making out. "A-alex!" My voice cracked from the shock that quickly turned to fear. I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar… a very unfaithful cookie jar. What the hell was I doing with Mason?
Mason let go of me. He didn't fling me away or anything, he just sort of… unlatched. I fell right out of his grasp.
"Alex…" I tried to avoid clichés, so I didn't go for the "this isn't what it looks like," instead, "Alex, why are you here?"
He looked mad. Nothing but mad. And hurt. "I got frustrated. I needed to go somewhere to sort my mind, and I find my girlfriend hanging on the lips of another guy!"
"I… No! He kissed me!" My hands were flailing desperately, trying to help me plead my innocence. Was I innocent?
"Cam… you… I dunno how to explain it! You kissed him back!" He hesitated and drew in a sharp breath, as if he weren't completely sure how to speak his next thoughts. "And if you really want to know why I'm in this exact place, then let me remind you that this is the place where we met."